Best cruises for families on holiday
Cash in on some quality family time on these family-friendly cruise lines.
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Multi-generational holidays are the new family reunions. They’re an ideal way to catch up, unwind and explore with loved ones without having to worry about taking care of accommodation, food and transportation between ports.
Whether you’re a family of three or a party of 20, these lines are the specialists when it comes to organising family cruises that tick all the boxes for young and old. All you need to do is choose the destination.
1. Disney Cruise Line
Disney has secured its spot as a magical brand the whole family can enjoy, and its cruises are no different.
There's a little bit of magic in store for every member of your crew when you board a Disney cruise ship. Adults have freedom to escape to their own heavenly oases onboard while little ones can play in supervised youth groups or in activity playground.
- Activities for the whole family: Broadway-style live shows, Walt Disney theatre, karaoke, trivia, music and dance deck parties, family-friendly port activities and kids' pools.
- Family cabins: Disney's liners have deluxe family staterooms that are ideal for up to five guests. For larger families, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy have over 500 connecting cabins.
- Family discounts: Discounted rates for children sharing a cabin with parents.
2. Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian has a reputation for providing some of the best entertainment at sea for young and old.
Featuring Broadway-style musicals, areas for various sports and pools complete with waterslides and deckchairs, Norwegian's activities aim to bring families together onboard. If you're looking for the best European cruise for families, this line is it.
- Activities for the whole family: Broadway musicals, mini-golf, bowling, circus and magician shows, water parks, rope courses and rock climbing walls.
- Family cabins: Connecting staterooms are available for multi-generational parties. Family staterooms are best for families of four.
- Family discounts: On most sailings, Norwegian offers discounts for the third to the eighth guest in one party.
3. Carnival Cruise Line
Not all families are made the same, so Carnival gives you and your brood plenty of options to play it your way.
With basketball courts and a fast and steep water slide for kids, and a casino and adults-only retreat for parents, there's a reason why Carnival is referred to as the "fun" cruise line. It currently offers more than 200 family-friendly activities across
4. P&O Cruises Australia
With home ports in Australia, New Zealand and Asia, P&O keeps the family trip close to home with a shorter journey to the wharf, making it one of the best cruises for families in Australia.
As a bonus for older families, P&O limits the number of children who embark, so you can expect a good mix of ages onboard its family-friendly fleet. As an estimate, around one third of its passengers are either families or multi-generationals.
- Activities for the whole family: Movies by the pool, theatre performances, live music and trivia and game shows.
- Family cabins: Three- and four-berth rooms. Cabin configurations tend to be twin beds with one to two upper bunk beds.
- Family discounts: Discounts available for groups of 16 guests or more.
5. Royal Caribbean International
Winner of the Top Cruise Lines for Families by Travel + Leisure readers in 2013, Royal Caribbean creates holidays the whole family can enjoy.
It achieves this with a blend of one-of-a-kind kids, family and adult activities both onboard and onshore. These include a skydiving simulator and surfing simulator. Royal Caribbean also offers group discounts and customisation options.
- Activities for the whole family: Roller skating rink, bumper cars, circus school, surf simulator, mini-golf, exclusive DreamWorks shows and parades.
- Family cabins: Generous family and two-bedroom cabins can accommodate up to eight people.
- Family discounts: Discounts for third and fourth passengers in the same cabin.
6. Captain Cook Cruises
When it comes to the best voyages for families in Australia, Captain Cook Cruises is right up there.
Aussie born and bred, this cruise line sails in and around our nation. It features up to week-long cruises through the Murray River and the Fiji islands. Cruise ships to Fiji have kids' clubs, childminding services, swimming pools and entertainment.
- Activities for the whole family: Sightseeing, whale watching, hop-on/hop-off and adventurous shore excursions.
- Family cabins: Family cabins are available on Fiji cruises. The Murray Darling paddlesteamer has rooms capable of accommodating up to three people.
- Family discounts: Child discounts available when booking adjoining staterooms on Fiji cruises. Discounts for triple occupancy available on Murray Darling cruises.
Best cruises for families of 4
- Costa Cruises. Generous family cabins can accommodate up to four people, with special discounts for third and fourth guests.
- Norwegian Cruises. Book two double suites to accommodate you and your kids, and double the fun with interconnecting rooms.
- Carnival Cruise Line. Family rooms are made for up to four people, and you can take advantage of family discounts.
- Celebrity Cruises. You can book a family veranda room, which can accommodate two adults and two children in separate bedrooms.
Best cruises for families of 5
- Royal Caribbean. Royal Caribbean offers family rooms that can fit up to six people, with two twin beds, a pullout sofa and double bunk beds.
- Disney Cruises. Family rooms can accommodate up to five people, so you can enjoy the magic of Disney without having to pay for an extra suite.
- Cunard. This cruise line doesn't have any five-person rooms, but you can combine a triple and a double room for the best value.
- Carnival Cruise Line. Most rooms are made for families of four but oceanview staterooms can fit families of five.
Family cruise cabins compared
|Family room types||Maximum occupancy per room||Are interconnecting rooms available?|
|Disney Cruise Line||Deluxe family staterooms||5||Yes|
|Norwegian Cruise Line||Family staterooms||4||Yes|
|Carnival Cruise Line||Family staterooms||4||Yes|
|P&O Cruises Australia||Quad-share rooms and suites||4||Yes|
|Royal Caribbean International||Family and two-bedroom cabins||8||Yes|
|Captain Cook Cruises||Family rooms (Fiji), paddle steamer cabins (Murray Darling)||4 (Fiji) and 3 (Murray Darling)||Yes|
Importance of cruise travel insurance for families
Bringing the whole brood along on a trip isn't cheap and takes a lot of planning to make it happen.
If anything doesn't go quite according to that plan it's assuring to know that you can get cruise travel insurance that's specifically designed for sailings. Compared to regular travel insurance, cruise plans can include added benefits like missed shore excursions if there's bad weather in a port, lost or damaged formal wear if something happens to your bag along the journey and cabin confinement compensation if your family comes down with a contagious stomach bug..
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